Attention alters the appearance of motion coherence

Taosheng Liu, Stuart Fuller, Marisa Carrasco

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Selective attention enhances visual information processing, as measured by behavioral performance and neural activity. However, little is known about its effects on subjective experience. Here, we investigated the effect of transient (exogenous) attention on the appearance of visual motion, using a psychophysical procedure that directly measures appearance and controls for response bias. Observers viewed pairs of moving dot patterns and reported the motion direction of the more coherent pattern. Directing attention (via a peripheral precue) to a stimulus location increased its perceived coherence level and improved performance on a direction discrimination task. In a control experiment, we ruled out response bias by lengthening the time interval between the cue and the stimuli, so that the effect of transient attention could no longer be exerted. Our results are consistent with those of neurophysiological studies showing that attention modulates motion processing and provide evidence of a subjective perceptual correlate of attention, with a concomitant effect on performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1091-1096
Number of pages6
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2006

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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